Make sure your home can weather any storm

2017-03-22 06:03
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WHILE summer in South Africa allows for the smell of new blooms and thunderstorms to fill the air, it is also a good time to review your household maintenance in line with your insurance requirements to ensure that your home is geared to weather any storm that may come your way.

“Over the past few years South Africa has suffered the effects of extreme weather on a more regular basis,” said Mandy Barrett of insurance brokers Aon South Africa.

“Damage from severe storms, floods and lightning strikes have become regular features on the insurance claims role.

“There are some important pointers to take heed of to make sure you won’t be left counting the cost when the next big storm strikes,” explained Barrett.

Storms and lightning strikes can leave significant damages in their wake, so it is important to take steps to ensure your household maintenance and lightning protection will see you through these forces of nature.

Even though most standard home insurance policies cover damage to all insured structures resulting from lightning, storm and flood damage subject to varying limits and excesses, always remember that your claims will be settled within the coverage limits, exclusions and provisions of your policy.

For example, if your policy stipulates that you must have surge protection in place and you renege on getting this done, any claims of damages to electrical circuitry, fixtures and appliances could be rejected because you have not complied with the policy provision for surge protection.

Likewise, if your gutters are not properly maintained or fully functioning and you suffer water damage to your ceilings as a direct result of this, you could be prejudiced in the event of a claim.

There are a few important tips to protect both your home and office:

. Always switch off and unplug electrical appliances during a storm.

. Install lightning surge protectors at all plug points, especially where you have expensive and important equipment plugged in.

This is not only to protect the equipment, but also any person who may be using the equipment at the time of a lightning strike or power surge.

. Install a heavy-duty surge suppressor at your main electricity distribution board. These surge suppressors are designed to deal with large voltages as they enter your building, minimising the impact on your equipment.

Make sure that only a licensed electrician installs this and schedule an annual inspection for extra safety. Modems and computers are some of the first items that are normally damaged in a surge.

. Where required, install a lightning conductor in the form of a freestanding mast for thatched roofs.

These must be SABS approved and installed by a qualified person. The combustible properties of thatch in areas with high lightning density pose serious fire hazards.

. Make sure all your gutters are clean and free of debris or blockages so they can allow for maximum drainage during a heavy downpour.

. Inspect your roof each year for leaks and damage to prevent water damage to ceilings.

. Inspect any surrounding trees and remove any dead branches which could cause damage if they fell on your property, vehicle or even worse, a person.

. The addition of lightning surge protectors to your intercom system, alarm system and gate motor should not be overlooked as these items are susceptible to lightning damage.

Also check your insurance policy to confirm what the outcome would be if your burglar alarm was damaged, without your knowledge, and you were burgled.

Your broker plays an invaluable role in managing and helping you mitigate your risk and, in turn, managing your premium costs.

With proper planning and advice from a professional broker, you can rest assured that no matter the weather, all your bases are covered.

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